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Golders Green Parish Church – Newsletter
15 July 2020
This week’s guest contributor is Sally
At the beginning of July, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, wrote an article on the importance of us all taking care of our mental health. Bishop Sarah was not just writing as our bishop, concerned for our welfare in the midst of the pandemic, but from her long experience as a former nurse who will have seen the effects of the many causes responsible for such distress. Her words are included in this newsletter.
Factors such as a build-up of stress through abuse, insecurity, loneliness, family breakdown, work-related pressure and anxiety, to name but a few, are mentioned by her. It is not surprising then that the pandemic and lock-down have ensured, for some, the likelihood of an increase in mental ill-health. It has done so particularly for those living in isolation, having little contact with others, or in situations of abuse from which they cannot escape, from acute worry about loss of income and of how they are going to feed their children- the numbers of families relying on foodbanks have rocketed during this time. I would suggest, listening to the news with its relentless doom and gloom is also a contributory factor. Media induced stress compounding it all a great deal certainly doesn’t help. We have to look hard for the hopeful and optimistic things that are happening and there are many good things taking place.
The important thing for us and our community at Golders Green is that we support each other as much as we can so that we feel loved and cared for. We are a community of God’s love here. We are all made in the likeness of God and as such each of us, no matter what or who we are, are of value within ourselves and to each other. So, it is important no-one feels cut off and/or alone or experiencing a build-up of anger or anxiety without being able to talk about it. Keeping in contact is a key factor in helping with those feelings; to be able to chat, to laugh and let of steam is important. I sometimes- No! - if I am truthful, often rage about the injustice and inequality we see unfairly experienced by so many. Apart from expressing it to others and trying to do something about it I often turn to the psalms. My goodness those psalmists know how to rail at God in their anger, how to lament in their distress, to cry out in their fury, shake their fists at the Almighty. They are never at a loss for words! But at the end of each psalm they always recognise that God is there for them, they have said what they want to say and recognise God as their loving creator and have hope. We can do that too. Try writing your own psalm and see what happens, you will be surprised, no-one will see it and it is a great release believe me – God understands.
I know we miss each other’s company and the chance to see each other; sometimes it hurts not to do so but, we can ring each other up, as you do, we can communicate through our newsletter and hear each other’s voices and thoughts that way. If anyone would like to write something to share please don’t hesitate. We have had such good offering. Just get in touch with Rex or myself. All are gratefully received and remember, too, Nehar offers prayer ministry, the details of which are in the newsletter.
While we are thinking about taking care of mental health it is important to give a thought to all clergy who, I know from my own contacts up and down the country, are suffering stress at this time, “How do we keep our communities together?”, “How and when are we going to open our Churches safely in the light of so much conflicting information and advice”, “How can we meet our parishioners spiritual and worship needs?”. In a number of cases, “How can we make sure our families in need are fed, protected from abuse?” and other myriads of questions. Aware of this some diocesan bishops have insisted that clergy take more time to rest instead of being physically and mentally on the go all the time which is helpful to no-one least of all to themselves. Periods of rest and time-out to recoup are essential to our well-being.
So, here is Bishop Sarah’s letter with much to think about, and, remember too the importance of keeping in touch with each other – we all need it.
Thank you Sally
We Can’t Go Back…So We Need to Take Care of Our Mental Health
by the Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, Bishop of London and former Chief Nursing Officer
‘Coronavirus has our brains pinging on “future threat,” driving global anxiety and shared fear, as we all live in this extreme state of uncertainty.’ So wrote Jan Bruce in Forbes magazine on March 5th. And if shared fear was a reality then, how much more so now? After three months of daily death tolls, R values and government appeals to stay at home, it is not surprising that a certain amount of anxiety might hang over the public’s heads.
This week, the mental health charity Mind quantified the impact. In a survey of 16,000 people, they discovered that 65% of adults and 75% of 13-24 year olds with pre-existing mental health conditions said that their situations had worsened. More than a fifth of those aged 13 or older without prior mental health difficulties described their mental health as poor or very poor.
We needed the stats, the briefings and the message to stay at home. Coronavirus was and is a killer. Understanding the risks helped us to stay alert in a time of real danger. And I’m also acutely aware that many people have faced fearful burdens on top of the virus itself. Those who have lost their jobs or have been put under severe financial pressures. The elderly who were shielding and less able to socialise online. Those who struggle with loneliness at the best of times, finding their feelings exacerbated by circumstances. Others found themselves suddenly trapped at home with abusers. They faced fears not just from an unseen killer but from a visible threat.
But the general climate of fear that has been so successfully inculcated in us, leaves us with a conundrum. How do we encourage one another to wisely emerge from lockdown? How do we begin to navigate this brave new world of face masks and social distancing? A world in which we can meet with six others but cannot sing in church. Some can have a picnic in the park while others remain shut up at home. We have permission to roam but the newspapers warn of a second wave. We want to support the economy but can feel, more than anything, emotionally shattered.
Thankfully, before COVID-19 hit, we had been moving towards a greater awareness of the need to attend to our mental health. Notably the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke out last year. I was grateful to be able to speak on these issues at Lambeth Palace alongside Dr Jacqui Dyer, President of the Mental Health Foundation and the Archbishop of Canterbury last year. The increased engagement with mental health awareness day is evidence of what Justin Welby wrote then: “it feels like something is beginning to shift.” It is becoming okay to not be okay. And in this regard, the Christian story has an important contribution to make.
In the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he says:
“We have this treasure,” [the treasure being the glory of God] “in jars of clay” [the jars being us] to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Paula Gooder, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, tells me that there were two types of jar in the first century. One was dark and thick used for display. The other used the thinnest material possible so that it would crack in the kiln. The cracks enabled light to diffuse out from within when a lamp was placed inside. The jar was purposely created to be vulnerable, so that the light would shine through it. This, says Paul, is God’s design. Our fragility, vulnerability and brokenness is by design, so that the light of the glory of Christ might shine brightly as we persevere in living for Jesus through it.
All of this means that as we emerge from lockdown, we do well to talk about our mental health. To talk to each other, to make it integral to our ministry life whatever context we find ourselves in, for mental health to be a subject for prayer in public as well as in private. In this way we can each find the comfort and support that we need.
I’m doing all I can to ensure that the NHS provides the mental health services that our nation will need through my role in the House of Lords. But in the first instance, Paul doesn’t point us to specialised support groups but the shoulders to cry on that he provides in the church. The brothers and sisters that should be available to us all. The challenge to us as churches, is to continue to have a culture in which everyone feels safe to share their struggles and feel able to speak openly.
Our fear is not something that we need to hide. It is something that can be harnessed in our walk with God. So often it is when we are at our wit’s end that we recognise our need to cry out to the Lord for help (Psalm 107:27). So often, in God’s peculiar plan for this world, it is when we have received comfort from Him and his people, that we are best equipped to comfort others in return (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Update on the re-opening of the church.
In the light of the recent Government announcements the subgroup of the PCC met again last week to think through and discuss what we need to do so we can re-open safely.
Thank you very much for all of you who have contacted us in recent weeks supporting the decision to take a cautious approach to ensure all of us are kept safe from this terrible virus.
The Bishops of London and Edmonton have written to all churches making it very clear that although we are now permitted to open, we should only do so where it is considered safe.
The subgroup thought that it would be sensible to work towards opening the church in September providing that there is no second spike of the virus.
We will keep you all informed at each step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask any question you have.
While we would like us all to be back together again, we want to do so in a way that prioritises everyone’s health and safety. This is in the forefront of our minds.
The sub-group at our meeting began to build a ‘Road Map’ of what needs to happen and be in place before we can open.
These are some of the steps that we need to take
Deep clean the building before it is opened - ensuring all surfaces and door fixtures, light switches are cleaned in line with Public Health England guidelines, and Historic England guidance for cleaning of historic and delicate surfaces. (We have contacted a company who provides this service and are awaiting a quote from them)
We need enough cleaning products to ensure all surfaces and door fixtures, light switches are cleaned after each time the building is used. (we will be contacted our cleaner to ensure they are ready to restart work in the church)
need to remove all Bibles, prayer books, leaflets etc from the building.
removing holy water from stoups, all candles and matches/lighters
to have a rota in place of sufficient people to welcome and to ensure those who entered the building keep to the appropriate distancing requirements
Clearly marked separate in- and-out entrances and exits
Clearly marked one-way system around the church. (Tape should be arriving in a few weeks)
keeping a register of all those entering and leaving the building who sign in with their own pens
ensuring there are required sanitizer washing facilities at the doors for all those entering. (we are currently sourcing these)
Hand sanitizer dispensers outside the toilets (we are currently sourcing these)
Order face masks for those volunteers helping with the welcome and the service. (we have sufficient masks on site)
We need posters and signage outlining the Government guidelines to display around the church. (we are currently sourcing these)
We need to remove the sofas and children’s toys out of the church.One of the group has volunteered to measure the church and workout seating and capacity for the congregation with social distancing.
As you can see there is still much to be done, but to repeat, we want to open the but only as soon as we feel it is safe, our safety is in the forefront of all our planning.
Daily Hope - The Church of England Phone line church service - is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
Please continue to pray for those who have asked us as a community to pray for them
Okey Jnr, Margaret, Yvone, Anna, Jason, Ian, Eva, Juliette, Ivor, Myfanwy, Tim and Dorothy
We at Golders Green Church will continue to offer a number of ways we can and will keep in contact though emailing and phoning each other, the use of Facebook and the website, sending out updates by supporting those who need shopping, prescriptions fetched, letters posted and anything else you may need if you are isolated at home, whether you are in the over 70-year-old age group, or, have underlying health conditions.
The important thing is, PLEASE LET US KNOW. We are drawing up a list of volunteers we can call on to help. If anyone wants to add their names to this, please email Rex firstname.lastname@example.org
Radio, Television and Online Worship
You may wish to join in worship during this time through television and radio.
Check online, in the Radio Times and elsewhere for details:
Songs of Praise BBC 1, Sunday afternoon, variable times
Sunday Worship BBC Radio 4, Sunday, 8.10am Choral Evensong BBC
Radio 3, Wednesday Daily Service
BBC Radio 4 (Longwave only), weekdays, 9.45am
Big Sunday Service Premier Christian Radio, Sunday, 7am, 8am, 10am Easter Sunday Eucharist A service is usually broadcast on the BBC on Easter morning
Free 24 hour telephone church service 0800 804 8044
Online resources Church of England Daily Prayer https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-dailyprayer
https://mailchi.mp/b9d86a4acdc7/coming-up-from-st-pauls-cathedral-1274047?e=377e26b1db St Paul’s Cathedral have a number of resources available for us to use.
Church of England Online Resources during this time https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronaviruscovid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources
Go On-line to " ps://www.achurchnearyou.com", put in Area or post code and find a local church that broadcasts Worship.
Prayers from Christian Aid https://www.christianaid.org.uk/pray/churches/coronavirus-prayers
https://pray-as-you-go.org/ Pray as you Go (a short service each day in the Jesuit Tradition)
LICC have some great resources on their website https://www.licc.org.uk/
Especially on Covid-19 https://www.licc.org.uk/ourresources/prayer-journeys/presence-pressure-purpose/
YouTube - Worship Video of the week
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOBIPb-6PTc&list=RDQdIOaAvvOp8&index=2 Do It Again | Live | Elevation Worship
Do you have favourite worship songs? Please email them to Rex at email@example.com